NewsLinks is a collection of recent news items relating primarily to the California judicial branch. NewsLinks does not verify nor endorse the accuracy or fairness of the news items, and the views expressed in opinions, editorials, and commentaries are those of the writers only.

State courts get $200M cut, but $953M for construction remains

July 01, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) According to a budget summary distributed by Newsom's office, the final budget cuts $176.9 million in General Fund support for trial courts and another $23.1 million from the state judiciary. If the state receives "at least $14 billion" in federal support by Oct. 15, all but $50 million of this $200 million reduction would be restored. The money is included as part of SB 74, the 225,000-word budget bill Newsom signed Monday.

Lake County Superior Court to resume jury trials with enhanced social distancing

July 01, 2020 | Lake County News
“Trial by jury is foundational to our democracy and the cornerstone of our justice system,” said Presiding Judge Michael Lunas. “The court is always appreciative of jurors who fulfill their responsibility to serve on a jury, especially those who will be called on to do so during these uncertain times.”

Tulare County jail reports first coronavirus outbreak

July 01, 2020 | The Sun-Gazette
“Right now, we are working with Tulare County Health and Human Services to identify the source of this outbreak,” said Ashley Ritchie, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department. “We are also checking if other areas of the jail may have been impacted.”
Oakland sues landlords for unsafe conditions, harassment

Oakland sues landlords for unsafe conditions, harassment

July 01, 2020 | The Mercury News
The Oakland City Attorney has sued three landlords for allegedly harassing and trying to illegally evict tenants, escalating concerns that renters still face dislocation and dangerous conditions despite enhanced protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comment period set on revisions to criminal jury instructions

July 01, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The Judicial Council is asking for public comment next week on proposed revisions to California's criminal jury instructions, including changes to felony murder liability language and definitions of great bodily injury.

California watches Washington state end nonlawyer licensing

July 01, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The Washington Supreme Court suspended licensing of new applicants for its program because of high costs and few participants, according to a letter from the court on June 5. The Washington bar reported in May that the costs for administering the license exceeded revenues by $1.4 million.

Judicial Profile: Los Angeles County Judge Jessica Uzcategui

July 01, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) "In the dependency work, it was extremely emotional," Uzcategui explained. "We're talking about people's children, the most important thing in some folks' lives. In unlawful detainer cases, we're talking about ... whether or not they're going to be able to stay in their home and put a roof over their family's head."
U.S. Supreme Court Gives Religious Schools More Access to State Aid

U.S. Supreme Court Gives Religious Schools More Access to State Aid

June 30, 2020 | The New York Times
The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that states must allow religious schools to participate in programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools, a decision that opened the door to more public funding of religious education.

Bill would alter Supreme Court settlement rule

June 30, 2020 | At the Lectern
Unchanged is the part of the statute, interpreted in Levy, requiring “parties” to stipulate in writing or orally in court for judgment to be entered. What the bill does do is add a provision allowing “the parties or their counsel” to “further stipulate” (emphases added) to the without-prejudice dismissal and to the court’s retention of jurisdiction.

Senators Urge Addition of Judgeships as Caseloads Balloon

June 30, 2020 | Courthouse News Service
The request would place new judges in courts across the country, including nine on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California and six on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, both of which have seen rising caseloads without any additional judgeships.

NY Courthouses To Check Body Temps: 100° Or Less To Enter

June 30, 2020 | Law360
In a memo, officials said the policy goes into effect July 6 and is intended to curb COVID-19 infections as the judiciary cautiously reopens across the state. In addition to passing a temperature check, the entry test will also include verbal questions about any recent virus symptoms, positive COVID-19 test results, and travel to states or countries with high infection rates — all before standard magnetometer and X-ray screening.

What to Know About the Judicial Branch Budget

June 30, 2020 | California Courts Newsroom
The budget cuts $200 million from the state court system, though $150 million could be restored if the federal government sends additional aid by the fall. Further cuts may be necessary if revenues are lower than expected after the extended July 15 deadline for tax payments.

LA, San Bernardino civil filings halved during shutdown

June 30, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) New cases filed during the superior court shutdowns decreased by about half in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, and slightly in Sacramento County, according to legal analytics company Lex Machina. The report encompasses April and May, when courts significantly scaled back operations.

Reducing lockup population for virus was insufficient test of bail reform, lawyers say

June 30, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) While jail populations were reduced to historic lows in many counties, prosecutors and other criminal law experts question whether two months was enough time to draw empirical conclusions about what would happen if voters in November uphold a law that would replace cash bail in California with a risk assessment system. The referendum proposes to block implementation of Senate Bill 10, passed in 2018 but held in abeyance once the initiative qualified for the ballot.
Pre-COVID evictions, on hold since March, resuming in San Bernardino County

Pre-COVID evictions, on hold since March, resuming in San Bernardino County

June 30, 2020 | Orange County Register
Evictions have been on hold throughout California since the state Judicial Council issued a ban on courts processing “unlawful detainer” cases and foreclosures until 90 days after the governor lifts the current state of emergency. But Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties had a backlog of 1,433 move-out judgments that predated the emergency.

Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench

June 30, 2020 | Reuters
Reuters scoured thousands of state investigative files, disciplinary proceedings and court records from the past dozen years to quantify the personal toll of judicial misconduct. The examination found at least 5,206 people who were directly affected by a judge’s misconduct. The victims cited in disciplinary documents ranged from people who were illegally jailed to those subjected to racist, sexist and other abusive comments from judges in ways that tainted the cases.

US judges try to move beyond controversy

June 30, 2020 | Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Days after Cormac J. Carney relinquished his post as chief judge over comments he made that were seen as racially insensitive, judges on the nation's largest federal trial court vowed Monday to move beyond the controversy.
States Pressured to Waive Bar Exam for New Lawyers in Pandemic

States Pressured to Waive Bar Exam for New Lawyers in Pandemic

June 30, 2020 | Bloomberg Law
A group called United for Diploma Privilege, made up primarily of recent law school graduates that initially aimed its efforts at California, has been leading the charge. The effort got a boost on Monday when law school deans in the Golden State reversed course and endorsed the diploma privilege option over the state’s tentative plans to offer an online exam in September.

California Chief Justice Issues Statement on Budget

June 29, 2020 | California Courts Newsroom
"We in the judicial branch will do our best to serve the public in these unprecedented times of a global pandemic and recession," Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement.
Several Inmates and Guards at Santa Barbara County Jail Test Positive for COVID-19

Several Inmates and Guards at Santa Barbara County Jail Test Positive for COVID-19

June 29, 2020 | The Santa Barbara Independent
On Friday evening, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office announced that three inmates and nine custody staff at the Santa Barbara County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing into reality a scenario that civil rights groups and activists have warned could put the lives of inmates and staff at serious risk.
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